We had always wanted to see our own country, and the opportunity to travel across Canada was on the horizon. The boys were 11 & 14, and it was a perfect time for us to head out to see as much as we possibly could in 30 days. Doug managed to get the time off from work, and we started packing!
This was a busy year! Dad and I had covered a lot of ground this spring, but there were a few questions remaining. At the same time, I knew I would be traveling across Canada with my family. When we started to develop a plan for our journey, I factored in a few days south of the border. It was a little tricky to convince my guys that it would be a true adventure, but they were hooked when I showed them the pictures of the gravestones in the middle of the Bolme's field. That, along with the DVD of the TV broadcast, were enough to entice them to go along with my plan.
We headed out with our van, loaded down with everything we'd need to camp every so often. Yes, we had a roof-top carrier, which held our tent and sleeping bags, etc. That left more room inside for us to spread out and enjoy our books and whatever else we had for entertainment. I did encourage the boys to look outside every so often, to see the amazing scenery.
It took 2 days of driving to reach Fargo, which is near the farm we were looking for. I was quite surprised at how quickly the beans had grown since I was there only a few weeks before. We enjoyed visiting Jeff Bolme and his son, and we were sorry to miss meeting Jeff's wife. Dad had wondered if perhaps there was another grave there with Melvina and little Lily, so Jeff offered to help us to probe the ground in the surrounding area. The boys took a turn, too, although we came up empty-handed. Doug and Jeff took some time to straighten up the stones once again, and we were pleased to leave them in good shape. It was good to connect again, and I hope to stay in touch with the Bolmes.
After all of that excitement, we went on to the Mall of America, near Minneapolis. The boys loved it!!! Such a perfect reward for their patience with my little side-excursion. Little did they know, I had another one planned for the following day. We went on to Red Wing, where the Sundell family had settled in the late 1800's. I was thankful for the GPS on that part of the trip, for sure. We went to Vasa (pronounced VAY-sa) to find the Swedish cemetery, and saw many graves of our ancestors. Some of the stones were very unique, indeed. We left there and returned to Red Wing via some dirt roads ... very interesting! The next day, Doug and the boys went to a water park while I visited the County Courthouse and the local Historical Society. I found many source documents, and then a book about the history of the area, which contained a little information about the Sundells. I purchased the book, and was so pleased to have added to our collection of sources.
Once we left Red Wing, it was full speed ahead to the Niagara region. Truly, I was floating on air by now, and couldn't really care if we saw more. Reality was that we had many kilometres to cover, however, so we carried on.
Fast-forward to New Brunswick, where we visited some distant relatives in Fredericton. We had never met, but had corresponded by email. Dr. Gary Waite is my 2nd cousin, 1x removed. He and his wife, Kate Hayward, have a lovely daughter, Eleanor, and we had an amazing evening. It was a little awkward to just show up at their lovely home, but we got on just fine, and had a wonderful visit over dinner and a great deal of wine. The kids all enjoyed their time as well, and we were sorry to have to leave the next day. We have kept in touch a little, and I sincerely hope our paths cross again one day.
Another big fast-forward in our journey takes us to Ottawa, where we visited friends at their amazing summer cottage. Before we connected with them, however, we happened to come across a farmer's market, where we saw a truck with the logo for McGregor's Produce. What were the chances? Yes, this was the same McGregor family from Mom's side that Dad and I visited with a few years prior. We hunted down their stall at the market, and found a few distant relatives there. They had no idea who we were, and I wasn't great at explaining the connection, but we were all pleased to know we were all family, and it was a welcome coincidental encounter.
Not much else that related to our family history on this very amazing trip, but it was remarkable in a few ways nonetheless. Our boys now have a little taste of what it's all about, and years from now they will still remember the incredible sight of the two white gravestones in the middle of a beanfield.